We put on our hardhat and safety glasses, pull on our gloves and lace up our steel-toed boots every day. While these are essential elements to creating a safe work environment, one of the best tools for safety is our voices – we are all empowered to step in, speak up and work together to stop anything that can create a risk.
That’s why the theme for this year’s Construction Safety Week is “Strong Voices, Safe Choices.” This is a great time to hear from some of Maxim’s safety leaders to get their perspectives on safety.
Cody Crisp, Regional Director, Safety
Cody Crisp’s passion for safety is deeply personal – he witnessed a fatal accident at a refinery early in his career before joining Maxim and saw the devastation it caused in the lives of people around the worker. He wanted to use his voice – and his life’s work – to help prevent incidents like he saw on the job.
“I felt like it was my chance to make a difference in the industry,” Cody said. “That’s really what drove me.” He went on to get his degree in occupational safety and health technology while continuing to work at the refinery. When a safety-focused job became available at Maxim, he made the move.
“It was a great opportunity to drive safety home,” he added. He’s been with Maxim since 2010 and is based in Houston.
At Maxim, Cody believes our teams can have a broad impact on safety.
“Cranes are the biggest toys on the jobsite. If we can make safe choices, that will carry over to the other crews on the jobsite by osmosis,” Cody said.
He believes safety needs to relate to the day-to-day life of a worker. “You’ve got to make it personal,” Cody said.
“You can follow policies and procedures and you use those as guidelines, but the guys must make the safe choice because it’s the right thing to do. You have a responsibility and obligation to your family and the families of those you work with,” Cody said.
For Cody, having a strong voice for safety means knowing your workforce and what makes them tick – helping them understand what taking risks can mean to them and those they love and how an injury could prevent them from doing the things they love.
“They need to understand safety isn’t about work, it’s about life,” he said. “You’ve got to take work out of it. Safety 24/7. There’s more riding on your personal safety than what happens to you. Safety is a learned behavior to recognize a hazard and not accept it.”
Cody adds that overall wellness has an impact on safety.
“The better physical condition you are in and the better mindset you’re in, the more apt you are to make a safe choice,” Cody says. “A person’s mental state of mind and physical conditioning all play a part in what we try to do to be successful from a safety standpoint.”
Mario Bermudez, Regional Manager, Safety
A career in law enforcement and experience as a veteran gave Mario Bermudez a deeper understanding of the importance of following procedures and remaining calm under pressure – great attributes for a career in safety.
After retiring from law enforcement work, he wanted to take on a new and was interested in industrial safety. When a friend told him Maxim was looking for a safety manager, he interviewed for the job and knew he had a match.
“I’ve always been in awe of large machines,” Mario said. In his current role as a regional safety manager at Maxim, he believes communication is a key factor in safety. “It’s all about communication. We must maintain a good, open channel of communication. Field workers must communicate their needs and concerns and management must react in a timely manner. “
For Mario, this year’s Safety Week theme ties directly to his belief in the importance of using your voice to communicate any issues that could impact safety.
“To me, ‘strong voices’ means our employees are given the ability to speak up and voice their safety concerns with no fear of retaliation. It means us as managers addressing their concerns and enacting safe options,” Mario said. “Again, safe choices to me goes back to COMMUNICATION. We as managers must communicate expectations and we must allow our employees to exercise their authority to stop work. Giving the employees the power to stop unsafe conditions will enable them to make safe choices in their daily tasks.”
Mario adds that nearly every day, safety team members assist employees or operators who have a concern or question.
“In fact, just the other day an operator called me before being asked to relocate a crane near powerlines,” Mario said. “We were able to stop the work and make sure we did everything we needed to do before proceeding. He did the absolute right thing, and he was able to intervene in a potentially dangerous situation. We were able to do the job safely and within guidelines because he called us first.”
Andy Elliott, Sub-Regional Safety Representative
Andy has been around cranes nearly all of his life. He started as a crane operator for his family’s crane company that was originally purchased by AmQuip. His experience makes him uniquely qualified to perform his duties as a Safety Director for Maxim. He’s been with Maxim since 2016 (his father’s company was acquired by AmQuip, which was acquired by Maxim).
Andy’s advice for building a safe environment is simple: “plan the work, work the plan,” he said. “Maintain open communication with everyone associated with the direct project at hand and stay in the circle of procedures for the work process.”
Andy adds that technology has helped safety leaders effectively communicate policies, procedures, and best practices. “Using PowerPoint and other tools helps with ToolBox Topics, visual training, our All-Hands Quarterly Meetings and site-specific orientation for our teams,” Andy said.
Open communication includes letting everyone know they have the authority to stop work if something isn’t safe.
“If you see something, say something and do not let it go. If you commit to a safe path, complete that task. Do not be that indecisive squirrel crossing the road, choose which side of the road you are going to, do not end up one of the thousand flattened squirrels because you could not commit to safely completing that task,” Andy said.